Saturday September 22, 2018

Rescued Bonded Laborers Need Psychological Help to Battle Mental Trauma: Study

Some rescued bonded laborers are coming together to lobby for their rights and share their stories

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Bonded laborers
India announced an ambitious goal last year to rescue more than 18 million bonded laborers by 2030. VOA
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  • Freedom becomes an alien concept to bonded laborers and they constantly battle with their captivity mentality
  • India announced an ambitious goal last year to rescue more than 18 million bonded laborers by 2030
  • While survivors of sex trafficking often receive help in shelter homes, rescued bonded laborers simply return to their villages and completely shut down
 After his rescue from abuse and overwork as a bonded laborer in a brick kiln in south India, Shanmugam Paneer has set up his own business making household items from bamboo.But the lifeless monotone he uses to describe his five-year ordeal betrays an inner struggle to move on from one of India’s most prevalent forms of human trafficking.

“For many, the process of coming out with the truth is far more painful than actually living those years in bondage,” said Loretta Jhona, a counselor with the U.S.-based charity International Justice Mission.

“Freedom becomes an alien concept and they constantly battle with their captivity mentality.”

Though India banned bonded labor in 1976, it remains widespread, with millions working in fields, brick kilns, rice mills, and brothels, or as domestic workers to pay off debts.

India announced an ambitious goal last year to rescue more than 18 million bonded laborers by 2030 and to increase fivefold the compensation that is paid to them, as part of a wider drive to tackle modern slavery.

Rescued workers need more psychological help to become truly free, counselors say, as they are often too scared to admit to suffering, such as sexual abuse, for fear of retribution from their former owners.

 bonded laborers
Young Indian bonded child laborers wait to be processed at a safe house after being rescued during a raid by workers from Bachpan Bachao Andolan, or Save the Childhood Movement, at a factory in New Delhi, India, June 11, 2013. VOA

“People are released physically but not really released from the burden of the debt, or the mental trauma they have undergone,” said Umi Daniel, a migration expert at the Aide et Action International charity.

Many former slaves instinctively curl up in their beds, used to spending a couple of hours sleeping in a cramped space, Jhona told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

While survivors of sex trafficking often receive help in shelter homes, rescued bonded laborers simply return to their villages and completely shut down.

“Very often there is no talk of the years spent in bondage,” said Jhona, adding that workers often find it hard to tell her of their hopes for the future.

“They ask us how they can have aspirations when even to eat or sleep they needed permission from their owners,” she said.

ALSO READ: India accounts for almost 40 percent of the worldwide laborers

“It is heartbreaking to see people with nil dreams and no aspirations, even for their children. They don’t think a better future can exist and most refuse to talk about any of it for months.”

No fear

Some rescued bonded laborers are coming together to lobby for their rights and share their stories.

Rukamana Deep says he finally “felt free” when he gave a lecture at the Odisha National Law University in April, describing how his family of four were trapped in a brick kiln.

Deep was able to tell his tale in detail, recounting his anger, despair, and helplessness as they worked round the clock to make up to 1,000 bricks a day for 100 Indian rupees ($1.56).

“There was no fear that day,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in a telephone interview from his village in the eastern Indian state of Odisha. “I just wanted to tell my story.”

Deep says his confidence comes from the fact that he knows he is not alone, after attending monthly meetings of a migrant bonded labor forum, Dadan Goti Shramik Surakshya Manch.

“We just talk about a lot of things, including the present challenges and the past problems,” he said. “We understand each other and also create teams that immediately reach out to recently rescued workers. It’s important for them to talk.”

Daniel, of Aide et Action International, believes such forums are critical.

“It’s a big step in their healing process,” he said. (VOA)

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At St. Teresa Charity Home, Out Of 450 Births Only 170 Are In Record

According to police, the incident is a case of human trafficking and they are trying to reach its roots.

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The main causes of the condition varied depending on whether you were pregnant with your first or second child. Pixabay

450 pregnant women were admitted in various homes, run by the order founded by St Teresa, here between 2015 and 2018, but there are records of only 170 childbirths and no information about the remaining 280.

Ranchi : The Missionaries of Charity, which is facing charges of selling newborns to childless couples, has not been able to provide records of births by 280 women at its various homes here, police said on Saturday.

According to police sources, 450 pregnant women were admitted in various homes, run by the order founded by St Teresa, here between 2015 and 2018, but there are records of only 170 childbirths and no information about the remaining 280.

“We are investigating all angles of the sale of children to childless couple. We have gone through records of the pregnant women and newborn babies. There are discrepancies in the records,” a police official investigating the case told IANS.

Motherhouse" at Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity.
Mother Teresa looking after the poor children. Flickr

The scam came to light when the couple, who had taken a newborn from the charity home in May, complained that they had paid Rs 1.20 lakh for medical care and delivery of the child, but the baby was taken back by the charity home with assurances of returning it back after court procedures.

The couple complained to the Child Welfare Society after they failed to get the child.

According to police, the incident is a case of human trafficking and they are trying to reach its roots.

Also read: Mother Teresa: Saint or Fraud? Five controversial facts about her

A mentally challenged women, staying in a Missionaries of Charity facility on Jail Road here, delivered a baby on Friday but sisters at the home insisted that the newborn should be left there only, the woman’s mother alleged. (IANS)